LoJ: #635 (Pre-LiDAR: NR) / 13,002' UN 13002 Formerly UN 12977

Range › Sawatch Range
Quadrangle › Mount Jackson
Summit Location › Peak Route Icon N 39° 23' 58.03", W 106° 32' 48.43" (Not Field Checked)
Neighboring Peaks › Peak Icon Savage Peak

Peak Summary

While the Carter Creek/Savage Lakes trailhead can be accessed on a graded gravel road by passenger vehicles, the backpack or hike into the upper Carter Creek lakes is difficult on a non-maintained trail and the climb of this summit is an exposed Class 2+ (some may consider it Class 3) by our route. The USGS map elevation of this summit was 12,977 ft. Lidar has placed it into the ranks of the 13ers with an elevation of 13,002 ft. Other access points include the Missouri Lakes trail over to Treasure Vault Lake and Blodgett Lake and the trail to Josephine Lake.

UN13002 Route

Class 3
Long Day // Back for Dinner
RT From Savage Lakes-Carter Lake & Creek: 11.6mi / 4,380'
  • Trailhead
    • Savage Lakes-Carter Lake & Creek TH

      First of all, make your way to Basalt, CO from whatever direction you live. Most will likely be coming from the I-70 corridor and Glenwood Springs. Be sure and take the exit off CO82 that leads into downtown Basalt. In Basalt, you take the main street through downtown called “Midland Ave.” This then becomes CR104 and heads east toward Ruedi Reservoir. This is a pleasant, shoulderless road with lots of curves so you have to keep your speed down. Continue on the winding road as it gains elevation around the north side of the reservoir, then drops back down to water level at the inlet on the east end. Once this road crosses the river at the inlet to the reservoir, it’s 4.1 miles to the turnoff for FR/CR501 to the left. A sign here only indicates that it’s 3 miles to the Elk Wallow Campground, but this same road leads to the trailhead for the Savage Lakes and Carter Lake further up. On the Trails Illustrated map #126, this road is designated as "4B." The road ultimately deadends not far past the parking for the Savage Lakes TH at what appears to be a diversion project of some sort.

      1.6 miles up the same graded county road from the Elk Wallow campground brings you to a trailhead for Josephine Lake. This is just past an intersection where Road 1B turns south for Cunningham Creek. Stay left at that junction. The signed Josephine Lake TH is a short distance beyond that road intersection There are pullout parking spots before & after the TH. About 100 yards up the road from the trailhead is a pullout that can accommodate about 3 vehicles. Another 100 – 200 yards further up the road is a good camping area on the right that can accommodate multiple vehicles, tents, etc.

      For the Savage Lakes/Carter lake TH, continue another 3.2 miles on the graded road. It becomes rougher as you approach the trailhead, but still manageable for most vehicles. There is an ample parking area at the TH. Weekends will find numerous hikers and their vehicles here.

      Note: Per a notice submitted by Ben Feinstein in summer of 2023, the Carter Lake section of this trail has been severely damaged by a blow-down of trees that extends all the way to Carter Lake from near the trail junction with the Savage Lakes trail. See our route description for UN 13002 for further details.


      There is one fee campground along this road as already mentioned - the Elk Wallow. This is fairly small and most summer weekends will tend to fill. Beyond it, there are several primitive camp areas alongside the road. At the trailhead, there are not any very good tent sites, but it's easy enough to park and camp overnight in vehicles like pop-up campers, pickups with shells, etc. There are some primitive sites close to the road around the Josephine Lake trailhead, on the right, and just north of that trailhead.

    Peak Icon Route Map Photos

    Route Info UN13002

    Route Description

    Year Climbed: 2014

    The Savage Lakes trail is the best access to the Carter Creek drainage, however, it is possible to bushwhack from the road, where Carter Creek crosses under. There is a faint trail on the east side of the creek that in 2014, wandered into the forest and which quickly dissipated. From there, continue uphill through forest, rock outcrops & short cliffs, fallen logs and dead trees to intersect the Carter Lake trail and follow it to the lake. It took us about an hour with full packs to do this, plus it was exhausting. In retrospect, you're better off following the Savage Lakes trail to where the Carter Lake trail turns off to the left even though you must hike most of the way to the lower lake before reaching the intersection. Follow the Carter Lake trail down to Carter Lake on some broad switchbacks through forest. Special Note: Update 03/2024 - a climber named Ben Feinstein notified us that the trail down to Carter Lake was recently obliterated by a "blow-down" of fallen trees and has become nearly impassable. The downed trees continue all the way to Carter Lake. This was reported in 2023. Ben also said that it appeared that some work was being done to restore the trail, but that it did not continue very far at all. If you can make it to the lake, Ben reports that the trail on the south side/end of the lake at the outlet is still usable all the way to the upper lakes. We strongly suggest that before using this route you contact the White River NF office and see if you can obtain more recent trail status. If unable to do so, then the best backpack approach to this summit would be to come in from the Missouri Lakes and pack up to Blodgett Lake and then into the upper end of the Carter drainage. For some additional photos of the trail and route, you may want to visit Ben's photos at: https://photos.app.goo.gl/vPj97ucFbY6PAvT79.

    At the lake, the Trails Illustrated map suggests that the trail goes around the east side of the lake. This is false. Cross the lake outlet on the south/west end on a log mat (if still there.) You should pick up a trail there and there are some camp spots nearby. The trail heads up along the west side of the creek through forest and heavy vegetation. In under a half mile, at these coordinates, it intersects a trail coming in from Henderson Park: N 39° 22' 44.00 W 06° 32' 39.40". Continue NE past that intersection. We found it rather obscured by lush vegetation.

    The Carter trail continues NE, staying on the west side of the creek and passing a small pond at 10,700 ft. A short distance past the pond, the trail crosses to the east side of the creek, below where the creek emerges from a small gorge. When it crosses over, it follows along rock outcrops above the creek until the creek exits the gorge at its upper end in a place of lower willows. Right here, it crosses back over to the west side: N 39° 22' 59.63 W 106° 32' 08.65". From there, continue to the first lake. A backpack campsite we used lies on the east side of the creek well before the lake if doing this summit as a backpack. There are other sites farther upstream. Continue past lakes, 2,3, 4, & 5, (see map) then work off trail over to lake #6. This is where the main climbing event begins.

    On the west side of the lake, there's a steep, flower-strewn slope that angles up to a sloping bench above covered with larger blocks of rock. Work your way through the heavy vegetation to that bench, then angle right, avoiding boulders as best you can and working over to the bottom of a talus slope with low tundra that empties out below a notch in the ridge high above. There is no need to head to the saddle farther to the NE. Work your way up the steep slope to the notch. The last few feet to gain the notch has what some might regard as a couple 3rd class moves. Exposure is not bad. Earlier in the season, gaining this east-facing notch may require an ice axe and spikes of some kind.

    Once at the notch, the summit is not far away. Turn left and head out across rock ledges working your way upward at every opportunity. The hiking is really Class 2+, but this is the most exposed part of the hike. The rock is generally solid and there are adequate ledges to make route-finding easy. Continue a diagonal track upward (SW) and eventually gain the rocky ridge to follow it to the summit. That summit overlooks the Lime Creek drainage and the Strawberry Lakes. It's an impressive view with Ribbed Peak in the distance and some high 12ers close by that some may want to consider bagging. If not continuing on to any of the closer summits. return as you came.

    It may be possible to reach this same summit by packing up to Josephine Lake and then accessing the SW ridge above Josephine and following that ridge NE to UN 13,002. While we have been to Josephine Lake (an easy backpack), and up to the tundra ridge above, we have not actually followed that ridge to the summit of UN13,002. This may prove to be an easier route if the ridge does not exceed Class 2+. You may want to consult other sites to see if there's any information.

    The entire Carter Drainage in its upper reaches is "classic Colorado." It's gorgeous, especially the highest lake. The vague at times trail continues to that highest lake and actually drops down toward Blodgett Lake where you could access several high 12ers. This central core to the Holy Cross wilderness is rich in water, lakes, wildlife and mesmerizing views.

    Additional BETA

    Links to other information, routes & trip reports for this peak that may be helpful.
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